Frequently Asked Questions about Volunteering at WDP
Can I get my out of pocket expenses re-imbursed?
We can re-imburse you for the cost of lunch for up to £4 for anyone volunteering with us.
Social Work and Counselling trainees would not generally receive expenses, as this is not conventional in either of these kind of Social Care placements.
We always seek to pay volunteers' travel costs to and from their placement.
The only exception to this is where your travel cost is particularly high, in which case we may not be able to pay the full amount. Currently we can pay for Oyster card journeys within London, and up to £12 by car if you are outside of London.
When will you get back to me?
You will receive an automated email when we receive your application. We will only contact you subsequently about a vacancy if a suitable one arises. Due to the volume of applications we do not have the resources to have an involved discussion with each applicant. That said, if you have a specific question we will do our best to get back to you within 7 working days.
What are you looking for when reviewing applications?
In general we ask that you fill in the application fully, as indicated on the form. If you do not do this we may not have sufficient information to evaluate your application.
Volunteer Practitioner Roles - Some applicants present as ready for a placement due to past experience - usually some prior social care work, either paid or unpaid.
We receive a lot of applications from ex-drug and alcohol clients, and also from people who have done psychology, criminology and counselling courses. We recognise the value of lived experience and academic training, though in both instances we would want someone to have some professional grounding in the field before working with clients. This is why we run a Volunteer Drug Practitioner Training courses annually in London and in some of our Projects in the Home Counties. This course enables those who do not have prior work experience to become suitable for a placement in our services. The London training runs in the Autumn of each year. The course is oversubscribed, so we cannot guarantee applicants a place.
A further route into volunteering in a client facing role for those with insufficient experience is our Peer Education Training. Currently this is only available to residents of Wandsworth. If you are eligible and interested in this please call: 0208 875 4400.
Organisational Support/Administration roles - Generally we would ask that you have an intermediate level working knowledge of the Microsoft Office programmes Word and Outlook, and that you have a basic level of competency with Excel. More specialised roles may require more particular experience.
Counselling and Social Work - please see the relevant tabs on the left hand side of the Volunteering Page.
Can I do your Drug Practitoner Training, as I am interested in drug and alcohol work?
Yes, but only if you are available for a placement. This would mean being available for 2 days a week for a period of 6 months.
Can I volunteer in the evenings or week-ends, as I work daytimes during the week.
It is unlikely we will have a placement of this sort available when you apply, but it is worth asking.
How much 'clean time' do I need?/ Do I have to be abstinent to volunteer?
As a rule of thumb we ask that people have been free from substance dependency for at least one year. Some services will require a longer period (2 years +). These guidelines are to maximise the likely well being of our clients and volunteers, as it may be difficult for you to offer support to others if you are still quite vulnerable yourself. But, we do take suitability on a case by case basis.
Will working with clients be dangerous?
Clients tend to recognise that we are offering them support and respond accordingly. Paid staff are responsible for dealing with very challenging situations that arise in services.
How much volunteering do I need to do to get a job in the field?/ What support do you give when someone wants to move to paid employment?
A high proportion of our staff entered the field via voluntary work, a significant number of them through our own volunteering scheme. But, it is important to recognise that volunteering with us will not guarantee you a job with WDP. What volunteering will do is give you valuable experience which will increase your chances of becoming employed with WDP or other Social Care agencies.
Usually you need at least six months experience in this or a related field to get employed in a practitioner role. Some people find that it is useful to volunteer for a year or more to build up their confidence to apply for jobs.
Work related support includes the following: formal and informal supervision from staff; shadowing experienced members of staff (for those in client facing roles); Volunteer Development/Support Groups; Training - you will have the option of having a place on a range of our in-house trainings, as well as a number of volunteer specific trainings that we provide.